Life is a lot. Trying to balance all aspects of student life, work life and social life (COVID limited) on top of dealing with the mental drainage of being in a very uncertain pandemic is challenging. For me, organisation is a huge way I can help declutter my brain, so I thought I’d share the way I’m currently planning my life.
Work out what is important/necessary for you. I set 3 main priorities – everything that fits around them I can say ‘no’ to if I don’t have the time or energy. I find that saying no to things can be really hard, so by having 3 concrete non-negotiable priorities it stops the guilt for me. Spending time with family and friends is an absolute given, so I set 3 priorities that go alongside this – one of which is my degree!
The uni workload this year is immense. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. With tasks from different modules flying around left, right and centre, the only way I can get it all done is by seeing it all in one place. On a Monday morning (or Sunday evening) I will get an A4 piece of plain paper with ‘To Do’ written in the middle of it, and will write down in mind-map form every single piece of reading, seminar prep, podcasts etc that need my attention. I will always have outstanding tasks from the week before, so I’ll make sure these are on here too. When I’ve completed a task, I give it a little highlight to tick it off.
I have a lot of work that isn’t related to uni, but I don’t really like to mix the ‘main’ to-do lists. If I’m looking for uni work, I only want to be seeing uni work on that list… So for each of my responsibilities I have a little index card that has all the jobs (in mind map form again) that I need to do. I’ll regularly update them when work comes in and highlight tasks off when it’s completed.
Now you know how I collate my workload – lets chat about how I actually manage it daily. Using my academic planner, I’ll write out a list of what I think I can achieve that day. I write it in the morning when I’ve seen what my calendar is looking like and can assess how productive I’m feeling – just to keep the list realistic. On average, I probably have 7 tasks written down that range from chapters of reading to tackling my inbox. I take the tasks as a combination of my master uni to-do list and a handful from my work ones. I’ll tick the tasks off as I go through them, any that I don’t get to I just put a little mark next to to carry it into the next day.
I don’t think I could survive without my Google Calendar. It basically has my life on. Deadlines, classes, events, meetings – you name it, it’s on the calendar. On a Sunday evening or Monday morning I’ll print out the weeks spread, colour code it and put it on my pin-board. If anything else comes up during the week I’ll just write it in. Having the calendar printed on paper makes so much difference to me, it allows me to see my time in front of me, rather than having to keep checking a screen to work out what I’m doing next.
TAILORING APPLICATIONS: My 3 musts
I’ve done a lot of posts on researching law firms (understanding them, websites to use, podcasts to use…) but all that research is a waste of time if you don’t use it in the application. When you apply to law firms, it’s important to show them why you want to work there. Specifically at that firm. To do this, your application must be tailored to the point where if you removed the firm name from your writing, it would still be completely clear which firm you are applying to.
It’s hard to write about tailoring without staring at an application, but hopefully these 3 suggestions can help you along the way!
1 – Deals
If you’re interested in working at the firm, it’s a good idea to show them you’re interested in the actual work. For me, I mentioned deals that the firm had recently worked on in the context of work experience I had had in a practice area. For example, when talking about an in-house construction placement, I would mention this sparking an interest in Real Estate, *segway into a recent firm deal in this area*. Massive warning with this approach – if you’re mentioning a deal, make sure you have read up on it as much as you can, just incase you get asked about it in an interview. In one of my interviews, the partner who was responsible for the client I mentioned in my application was interviewing me. Luckily I was prepared, but if I hadn’t been it would have certainly been an interesting discussion.
2 – Initiatives
A lot of firms have reasonably similar clients and deals. For me, looking beyond this to the initiatives the firm runs really helped me with tailoring the application beyond just law. On an application, it’s important to show your personality and your interests beyond the law, so I found tailoring these aspects of my life to part of the firm that also goes beyond this really helpful. As an example, whilst talking about my time working in a team (competence) as part of a choir (extra-curricular/personality), I could mention any activities the firm does that shows they value interests outside of law, such as though a choir or sports team.
3 – Personal Experience
If you have met someone from the firm, either virtually or in person, TALK ABOUT IT! Your own personal experience with the firm is an amazing way to tailor your application. You can show that you’ve been proactive in meeting with the firm before applying, and mention why this experience motivated you to apply and want to work for the firm in the first place. If you’re able to ask questions to someone at the firm, try and stand out from the crowd by asking them a question that only an ‘insider’ in the firm would know – this will GLOW on your application.
Disclaimer! Everything I write is based on MY journey securing vacation schemes with three top law firms. It’s definitely not exhaustive and it’s important to remember that different people have different experiences.
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